HD in her spring power rankings has Boston College ranked 11 of 12 in the ACC. Behind only Duke. Yes, lowly Duke. The same Duke that needs to get to 7-5 next season to become bowl eligible, since they scheduled two I-AA cupcakes.
First, Jeff, tell me why HD is right in predicting the Eagles at the bottom of the ACC Atlantic standings.
Jeff: A lot of people seem to be loving the fact that Duke is starting to show some progress in football so I am actually surprised that she didn't just go ahead, make a complete ass out of herself and put BC 12 of 12.
I know you want me to take the side of why it is possible that the Eagles will finish last in their division next year but I just can't. Where are we downgrading? Defensive Tackle. That's it. Every other position on the field should be just as talented or improved from the 2008 team. We might see a slight, and I emphasize slight dropoff at safety and tight end. That's really all I'm coming up with.
So since I strongly believe the 2009 Boston College football team will be slightly more talented than the 2008 version, there are only two ways the 2009 team will not finish as high in the standings - coaching and quality of opponents. Coaching will be a question until we get on the field in September and perhaps even throughout the season. I do not think the coaching change will cost us games in 2009. If there is a negative effect I expect to see it down the road. Then the ACC is improving so the competition is getting tougher. But we're talking about baby steps here. Also, we swap out Georgia Tech for Virginia this year and get North Carolina at home instead of on the road. Overall there is no way the ACC schedule is any more difficult since we lost both the Georgia Tech and North Carolina games last year.
So the bottom line is HD might be right if BC goes 3-5 in conference and loses all the tiebreakers in another year where everyone except Duke is a game or 2 away from heading to Tampa.
Brian: Let's discuss why HD is flat out wrong and how her ESPN ACC blog is becoming dangerously close to losing complete credibility with not only BC fans, but the entire ACC fan base and her peers.
The first factor, as you mentioned, is the schedule. While we don't get Duke, it sets up nicely such that we will get arguably our toughest opponents at home.
Home: Florida State, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, North Carolina
Away: Virginia Tech, Virginia, Clemson, Maryland
And with the exception of the 2008 season where we went 2-2 in ACC games in Alumni Stadium, since joining the conference the Eagles have done a very good job of winning ACC home games and protecting our home turf ... 3-1 in 2007, 4-0 in 2006, and 3-1 in 2005.
I can see the Eagles easily going 2-2 at home and 3-1 on the road for a 5-3 record. Even with a 4-4 record, I don't think this will place the Eagles last in the Atlantic like this year. I expect the Atlantic Division to be a bit weaker than the Coastal this upcoming year and I just can't see a 4-4 or a 5-3 record placing the Eagles last.
The other factor is coaching, but to a larger extent, personnel. What have we lost on the offensive side of the ball? Purvis? Brandon Robinson? We don't lose any of the key offensive playmakers, and with the additions of Sean Devine and Dave Brock to the coaching staff, I see good things from the Eagles offense next year. We will go with either Dominique Davis and Justin Tuggle, and with good protection from the offensive line, NC State showed last year that a young, athletic quarterback can thrive in this league. Besides, there is no direction to go on offense but up, right?
Special teams can't be worse, and oh yeah, our new head coach was the defensive mastermind behind our Top 10 defenses the past two seasons. Sure we lose Brace, Raji and Akins, but Eagle critics were saying similar things last offseason with the loss of Tribble, Silva, Dunbar and Pruitt. And the defense turned in as good, if not a better, performance in 2008 as they did in 2007.
Jeff: Here is essentially what Heather Dinich said in her power rankings so that none of you have to click the link:
1. Va. Tech - despite backing into the ACCCG, they did win it for the second year in a row and therefore deserve to be favorites.
2. Florida State - lose a lot of talent and finished behind Boston College, Va. Tech, and Georgia Tech last year but they are FSU so they are #2.
3. Georgia Tech - loses both lines but I heart Paul Johnson
4. Miami - Their great recruiting classes have to pay off eventually
11. Boston College - Had a small recruiting class. Despite the fact that I'm a football blogger, I fail to realize that very few true freshman play, let alone have an impact, so I am going to assume BC will fail, not only to make their 3rd straight ACC Championship Game, but finish nearly last in the league. They return a bunch of players including the ACC Defensive POY but I don't use logic when ranking teams. I would have ranked them last but ESPN forced me to show some restraint and put perrenial basement dweller Duke at the bottom where they belong.
Brian: Wow! I have no comeback for this Jeff ... Well played, sir.